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Title:The effects of lexical stress, intonational pitch accent, and speech rate on vowel quality in Catalan and Spanish
Author(s):Nadeu Rota, Marianna
Director of Research:Hualde, Jose Ignacio
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hualde, Jose Ignacio
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Cole, Jennifer S.; Escobar, Anna Maria; Shih, Chilin; Shosted, Ryan K.
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Phonetic Vowel Reduction
Vowel Quality
Abstract:Lexical-stress languages tend to display stress-induced vowel quality variation. In some languages the effect is very salient, resulting in a smaller vowel inventory in unstressed syllables and stress-conditioned rule-governed vowel alternations within paradigms (phonological vowel reduction). Other languages exhibit only slight phonetic variation between vowels in stressed and unstressed syllables (phonetic vowel reduction). Regarding the latter, two main hypotheses of how prosodic prominence affects vowel production have been proposed. Based on experimental data from Germanic languages, their empirical basis is still rather limited. A deeper understanding of the effects of prosodic prominence on vowels requires careful experimentation on an expanded set of languages. This dissertation investigates the effects of lexical stress and intonational pitch accent on vowel production in Spanish and Catalan. Although closely related, these languages differ importantly in their phonology. The five Spanish vowels can appear in stressed and unstressed syllables. In Central Catalan, however, seven stressed vowels alternate with only three unstressed vowels. Comparing these languages allows us to observe how the existence of phonological vowel reduction conditions the operation of phonetic reduction. Stress-induced vowel centralization or reduction has sometimes been attributed to decreased vowel duration in weak prosodic positions. Thus, the role of duration is further investigated by manipulating speech rate. The results show that in both languages vowels produced at faster rate are shorter and less peripheral than those produced at normal rate. Interestingly, the effects of stress differ in these languages. For Catalan, unstressed vowels are shorter and more centralized than stressed vowels. On the other hand, Spanish speakers exhibit individual effects of stress, suggesting that the use of vowel quality to signal stress is not conventionalized. In addition, in Catalan, the presence of a prenuclear accent in a broad focus utterance does not affect vowel quality or duration of lexically stressed vowels. Yet, lexically unstressed vowels are longer and have more extreme vowel formants under emphatic accent. This dissertation provides a comprehensive description of prosodic effects on vowel production in Catalan and Spanish, hence contributing to a body of cross-linguistic research dealing with the influence of prosody at the segmental level.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Marianna Nadeu
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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